Should you change one thing at a time? Or everything all at once?

Should you change one thing at a time? Or everything all at once?

via Science of Us by Cari Romm

If you’re trying to kick a bad habit — or pick up a good one — conventional wisdom suggests that the incremental approach is the way to go. Gradually cutting down on junky snacks is easier than going cold turkey on sugar; if you want to go from couch potato to long-distance runner, start with shorter jogs, not a marathon. If the goal is to floss your teeth more often, as writer Belle Beth Cooper explained earlier this year in Fast Company, start with a single tooth and work your way up from there.

“When I first started to focus on building healthier habits a few years ago, one of the biggest mistakes I made was to ask too much of myself,” she wrote in a story titled “How I Became a Morning Person, Read More Books, and Learned a Language in a Year.” “I would go from reading hardly ever to attempting to read one book per week. Or from getting up at 9 a.m. most days to trying to roll out of bed before 6 a.m. every morning. The distance between where I was starting and where I wanted to be was so great that I would fail a lot.” Once she started making tiny adjustments, though, the successes came more easily, and they mounted.

But recent research in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience suggests that maybe we’re all underestimating ourselves: Perhaps we can make those sweeping overhauls more easily and more successfully than we think — and maybe we’re shortchanging ourselves by taking baby steps instead. As the New York Times reported, the study authors followed two groups of college students over the course of six weeks to examine the effects of sudden, dramatic lifestyle changes…

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